Joe and I were both born in Detroit and moved to rural Michigan in 1985. Joe is a retired Ford Motor Company skilled tradesman and USMC Vietnam veteran. As a visual artist, I exhibited my paintings, and photographs, throughout Michigan.
Then in 2003 our first groundhog, Wilhelmina, took up residence on our property. Joe had heard woodchucks were destructive. They would damage the foundation of our buildings and destroy our gardens! But as we watched Wilhelmina preparing her home and raising her babies, we became intrigued. We agreed to let her and her family stay. At least temporarily. With that decision, our lives changed. And 15 years later, we are still observing and still intrigued! We would never have imagined our retirement years would revolve around the activities of a rodent!
Our goal in this project is to capture, through photos and video, the most natural behavior of groundhogs. To that end, photographs and video are shot through the windows of our house. Additionally, we’ve installed trail cameras in and outside our barn. The barn is a hibernating burrow, mating burrow, and where the female gives birth to her young. The trail cameras capture activity we can’t see from our windows. We also photograph a variety of other wildlife seen on our property including; red fox, deer, skunks, raccoons, rabbits, possums, squirrels, wild turkey and a variety of other birds.
The woodchucks and other animals have eaten some of our flowers. We’ve had no structural problems with the foundations of any of our buildings. We have had holes dug by the groundhogs in inconvenient or unwanted areas which we have successfully filled in. So yes, co-existing with groundhogs is not without some problems, but none that would warrant their removal from our property. In fact, if they were all to disappear from our property, they would be missed.
Joe and I hope visitors to Woodchuck Wonderland have gained a better understanding of free-living wild groundhogs. And please check out Woodchuck Wonderland on Facebook.